Huawei in public test as it unveils sanction-hit phone

Huawei Mate 20 X (5G) is pictured at the IFA consumer tech fair in Berlin, Germany, on September 5, 2019. (REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/File Photo)
Updated 19 September 2019

Huawei in public test as it unveils sanction-hit phone

  • Hit by US sanctions, Huawei's Mate 30 will not be allowed to use Google’s Play Store
  • Household-name services like WhatsApp, Instagram and Google Maps will be unavailable.

BERLIN: Chinese tech giant Huawei launches its latest high-end smartphone in Munich on Thursday, the first that could be void of popular Google apps because of US sanctions.
Observers are asking whether a phone without the Silicon Valley software that users have come to depend on can succeed, or whether Huawei will have found a way for buyers to install popular apps despite the constraints.
The company has maintained a veil of secrecy over its plans, set to be dropped at a 1200 GMT press conference revealing the Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro models.
Huawei, targeted directly by the United States as part of a broader trade conflict with Beijing, was added to a “blacklist” in Washington in May.
Since then, it has been illegal for American firms to do business with the Chinese firm, suspected of espionage by President Donald Trump and his administration.
As a result, the new Mate will run on a freely available version of Android, the world’s most-used phone operating system that is owned by the search engine heavyweight.
While Mate 30 owners will experience little difference in the use of the system, the lack of Google’s Play Store — which provides access to hundreds of thousands of third-party apps and games as well as films, books and music — could hobble them.
Household-name services like WhatsApp, Instagram and Google Maps will be unavailable.
The tech press reports that this yawning gap in functionality has left some sellers reluctant to stock the new phones, fearing a wave of rapid-fire returns from dissatisfied customers.
Huawei president Richard Yu said at Berlin’s IFA electronics fair this month that his engineers found a “very simple” way to install the hottest apps without going via the Play Store.
Huawei could offer its own app store in a preliminary version, setting itself up as a competitor to the dominant Apple and Google offerings, observers speculate.
Over the longer term, the company could build out a similar “ecosystem” of devices, apps and services as the Silicon Valley companies that would bind users more closely to it.
The world’s second-largest smartphone maker after Samsung, Huawei earlier this month presented its proprietary operating system HarmonyOS, a potential replacement for Android.
The Mate 30 will not yet have HarmonyOS installed.
But it could make for a new round in the decades-old “OS wars” between Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s Mac OS, then Android versus Apple’s iOS.
Meanwhile, Eric Xu, current holder of Huawei’s rotating chief executive chair, has urged Europe to foster an alternative to Google and Apple.
That could provide an opening for Huawei to build up Europe’s market of 500 million well-off consumers as a stronghold against American rivals.
“If Europe had its own ecosystem for smart devices, Huawei would use it... that would resolve the problem of European digital dependency” on the United States, Xu told German business daily Handelsblatt.
He added that his company would be prepared to invest in developing such joint European-Chinese projects.


Saudi Arabia jumps up global talent league

Updated 19 November 2019

Saudi Arabia jumps up global talent league

  • The Kingdom rose five places in the annual survey

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia has jumped up the global league tables for the quality of its business executives, as measured by the International Institute for Management Development (IMD), the prestigious Swiss business school, in its 2019 World Talent Ranking.

The Kingdom rose five places in the annual survey, leapfrogging the UAE in 30th place for the first time and closing the gap on Qatar in 26th position.

The IMD’s improved rating for Saudi Arabia comes after the Kingdom jumped up the World Bank’s “doing business” ratings and an improved performance in the World Economic Forum’s global competitiveness rankings.

IMD said that Saudi Arabia showed improvements in the investment and development categories it judges, as well as readiness for economic and managerial change.

FASTFACT

1st

Switzerland was first placed in the IMD rankings, followed by Denmark and Sweden.

It also scored high on the availability of apprenticeships, the prioritization of employee training, access to specialist skills and the availability of senior managers with international experience and finance skills.

In terms of its appeal to executive talent, however, Saudi Arabia was further down the placings.

Jose Caballero, senior economist at the IMD competitiveness center, told Arab News that Saudi Arabia could improve its appeal by “encouraging its private sector to prioritize talent attraction and retention, as well as focusing on increasing the levels of worker motivation, and the quality of life it offers.”

He added: “The talent potential of Saudi Arabia is captured in one of the Vision 2030’s key themes: A vibrant society, with strong foundations, especially in relation to education.”

But despite spending a big proportion of its GDP on
education, expenditure per student is relatively low, as is the quality of secondary schools and teacher-pupil ratios. The Kingdom ranks comparatively low down the ratings for adult literacy, Caballero added.